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Wednesday
Jul252012

French Silk Pie

French Silk Pie

In high school, for one brief day, I fancied myself a pastry chef. There was no reason for me to believe this bold statement; this was four years before I discovered a passion for baking (and six years before I baked professionally). Even so, as a friend and I were sitting bored on the couch on a Saturday afternoon, I imagined inventing new recipes couldn't be that hard. Up until this point, my only experience with baking was with box mixes, but I didn't let this simple, though glaring, fact deter me.

Not when I was craving strawberry pie, anyway.

French Silk Pie

My friend and I set out to engineer our own strawberry pie from scratch. For the crust, we pulled out butter, flour, and sugar, wildly throwing amounts into a mixing bowl without regard to measurements (or consulting a real recipe). The dough was greasy and sticky but, with a little elbow grease and a lot of flour, we managed to roll it out into two round circles. It wasn't perfect, but it gave us the confidence we needed to move on to the next step. See? I told you this wouldn't be hard, I remarked to my friend.

We grabbed a package of frozen strawberries for the filling. I wondered how I could elevate the simple pie. Chocolate, I thought wistfully. Chocolate covered strawberries were delicious, so shouldn't they be delicious in a pie? I relayed this to my friend and she agreed. Though unusual, we had high hopes for our little pie. We filled the bottom crust with filling, but, as the juice from the thawing strawberries pooled in the bottom of the pie pan, we thought it may need something more. Would marshmallows soak up the juice? Maybe. We threw a few in for good measure and sealed the top crust with the remaining dough.

French Silk Pie

As it baked in the oven, the house began to swirl with wonderful scents of butter and strawberries affirming our sincere, but completely wrong belief that baking could be done without recipes or any honest knowledge of how ingredients interact to create sinful treats. The first warning sign came when the top crust held the unusual shape of the marshmallows that jutted out from beneath, leaving us to wonder if the marshmallows simply weren't melting. The second warning sign came when the top crust was completely browned only twenty minutes into the oven. Did pies bake in only twenty minutes?, we wondered. Maybe. We pulled the pie from the oven, let it cool for an agonizing length of time, and finally cut into our masterpiece.

The pie immediately sunk. Once the first piece was removed, the strawberry juice began to pool in the bottom of the pan. Our marshmallow trick hadn't worked, it seemed. We hesitantly took our first bites. Though the top crust was overdone, the bottom crust hadn't even begun to bake, leaving raw dough to form the base of the pie. The strawberries were good, but the chocolate flavor wasn't right and the hint of marshmallows was really too much. My friend managed two bites before tossing it out; I managed three.

It seems we weren't quite the pastry chefs we imagined. Despite this obvious setback, I have gotten much better at baking and inventing recipes since then, thank goodness. This French Silk Pie is a little dream, completely worth the effort of putting it together and waiting for it to emerge from the refrigerator in it's subtle, but charming glory.

French Silk Pie

French Silk Pie is a classic for good reason. A flaky pie crust is filled with a seemingly impossible smooth chocolate mousse and chilled until the mousse sets and the flavors develop. The chocolate mousse is just rich enough for this pie to taste sinful and chilled enough to make for a fitting summer dessert. Topped with whipped cream and chocolate curls, this is a pie to share with the boys (and girls) in your life.

Note: This pie does contain raw eggs. If this is a problem, use pasteurized eggs or try a different recipe for this pie.

One Year Ago: Cherry Almond Muffins and S'mores Ice Cream Sundae

French Silk Pie

Yields 1 9-inch pie

1 recipe for 9-inch pie crust dough (such as this recipe)
3/4 (1 1/2 sticks or 170 grams) cup butter, room temperature
1 cup (225 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
3 large eggs, room temperature
Whipped cream, topping
Chocolate curls, garnish

On a lightly floured surface, roll out pie crust dough into a 14-inch round. Wrap dough lightly around rolling pin and transfer to a 9-inch pie pan. Gently press dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim the dough to allow a 1-inch overhang. Pinch dough between thumb and forefinger to make an edge around the rim. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C).

Using a fork, prick a couple dozen holes into the bottom of the crust to prevent the dough from rising. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned. Allow to cool completely before filling.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat together the room temperature butter and sugar until smooth and light in color, about 5-6 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract and melted chocolate. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating for 5 minutes between additions to add height to the chocolate filling.

Spread the chocolate filling into the cooled pie crust and chill for at least 2-3 hours before serving to set the filling and develop the flavor.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of chocolate curls.

Reader Comments (15)

Wow! That looks amazing! I think I am going to make it for a family BBQ this weekend. Thanks.
This looks goooorgeous!
This pie is positively lovely!
That story about the strawberry chocolate marshmallow pie made me smile. Not because I'm glad you failed but because it was just a really cute story. I hope to some day be able to create my own recipes and have them turn out like normal.

Delicious looking French silk pie. As I was reading the post I started to wonder if there's such a thing as a strawberry silk pie. Maybe with a chocolate ganache on top. I feel like that would be delicious.
I love your website so much!
Your story about the pie made me laugh. I remember when I started baking I did so many stupid things in the kitchen. God it's awkward!
Anyway, the pie looks incredible and quite easy to make. The photos are beautiful too :) thanks!
07.26.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBella
I always love to read your blog. Your writing is very good, and I enjoy sitting and finishing each entry from top to bottom, always left with a smile. And this pie looks like something I would expect at a restaurant. You make us look like real chefs also with recipes like these. Thanks!
07.26.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren
Gosh this looks so good! I'm looking at this during maths class and i suddenly have a small swarm of foodies wanting to know the recipe. I'm definately going to have to try and make this (and reinvent your strawberry pie) :D
07.26.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLizzie
This recipe is nearly identical to the one my family has been using for the past 50 years or so. It is my absolute favorite pie and is the reason I can't choke down the candy coated crap they serve at village inn or dennys. I love your posts.
07.27.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor
can i replace the pie crust with cheesecake crust? like crushed biscuits, sugar, and butter?
07.27.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSydneylyn
Sydneylyn-- You can, if you'd prefer it. I say go for it!
07.27.2012 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
This looks amazing! I'm in complete & utter love with your entire blog, Kristin. Truly, I am!
Wondering if you can address the raw egg issue. I have at times cooked the egg over a double boiler until it reaches temp if I know I am serving others or small children or elderly.
07.30.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
Rachel-- That is a possibility, but you need a candy thermometer to make sure the egg whites achieve a temperature over 140F for several minutes to kill potential salmonella (though only 1 out of 20,000 eggs is at risk for having salmonella). As it so happens, egg whites coagulate and begin cooking at 140F, so it's a fine line to walk. I don't necessarily trust myself to do this well (I usually end up with semi-cooked whites), which is why I recommend using pasteurized eggs if you are serving them to children, pregnant women, or the elderly.
07.30.2012 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
I made this pie last night and it was next to amazing. Thanks for the recipe!
09.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMeagan
I'm making this for our anniversary right now and it's kind of looking beastly because I don't have pie weights and my crust puffed and then shrunk down. I can guarantee it will still taste delicious, but I probably won't be taking any pictures...gotta pick up some pie weights and make my life easier already. Love your marshmallow ingenuity!
10.2.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLoretta E

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